Seasons greetings! As the weather gets colder everyone gets busy. Your eyes have to last you a lifetime, so taking care of them is incredibly important. Your lifestyle can cause significant strain on your eye health and can have a harmful effect on your sight, especially as you grow older. Here are some Tips to take good care of your eye health…
Glaucoma causes fluid pressure to build up inside the eye (intraocular pressure), damaging the optic nerve. It is one of the leading causes of blindness worldwide, and currently affects 57.5 million people, and is expected to increase to 65.5 million by 2020.
Running in its 43rd year, Nikon’s Small World Photomicrography Competition is a science-focused photography competition that magnifies on anything that goes on under the microscope. With more than 2,000 entries from 88 different countries in 2017, the winning entries narrowed down to three prize winners, including 85 honorable mentions. Read more
Is what you’re looking at an object, a face, or a tree? When processing visual input, our brain uses different areas to recognize faces, body parts, scenes, and objects. Scientists at KU Leuven (University of Leuven), Belgium, have now shown that people who were born blind use a ‘brain map’ with a very similar layout to distinguish between these same categories.
Our brain only needs a split second to determine what we’re seeing. The area in our brain that can categorize these visual observations so quickly is the so-called ventral-temporal cortex, the visual brain. Like a map, this region is divided into smaller regions, each of which recognizes a particular category of observations — faces, body parts, scenes, and objects. Read more
Today, Google gives the inventor of eye test’s 181st birthday a wink with an animated doodle. Ferdinand Monoyer (9 May 1836 – 11 July 1912), a famous French ophthalmologist developed the diopter, the unit of measurement for vision still used by eye care professionals today. The diopter measures the distance you’d have to be from the text to read it.
Most notably, Monoyer devised an eye chart called the Monoyer Chart to test visual acuity. In the chart, every row represents a different diopter, from smallest to largest. Interestingly, Monoyer’s name is hidden among the letters in the chart, too.
The theme of World Health Day 2017 is depression. Various studies conducted by ophthalmologists and researchers show that adults with vision loss were 90 percent more likely to have clinical symptoms of major depression. In addition, they specified that the connection between vision loss and depression is likely to be “bidirectional,” with the disability worsening depression and depression exacerbating disability.
“Improved access to screening, diagnosis, and treatment of depression by eye care professionals and primary care providers may help to reduce the burden of depression-related excess disability and improve the quality of life among people with vision loss,” they noted.
Many astronauts who come back from space experience poorer vision after flight, some even years after, and researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham are working to see why.
Brian Samuels, M.D., assistant professor in the Department of Ophthalmology, and his fellow collaborators from the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University recently received a grant to study computational modeling as a method of determining why astronauts who are in space for extended periods of time are experiencing eye pathologies. Samuels is collaborating with scientists at the NASA Glenn Research Center, and others, to help identify the cause of these pathologies, and determine whether there is a way to intervene and prevent these types of vision complications in the future.
“We know that, if astronauts are in space for extended amounts of time, they have a higher propensity for developing pathologies similar to increased intracranial pressure,” Samuels said. “We are trying to incorporate all of the existing clinical and research data into functional computational models of the eye itself, the central nervous system and the cardiovascular system to determine how they are interacting.”
He says these computational models should answer some of the questions as to “why this is happening to our astronauts.”
The length of time astronauts stayed in space changed in the mid-2000s when the International Space Station started being used. Space shuttle missions typically lasted two weeks, but now the ISS missions may last six months or longer. Astronauts were no longer going up to space and quickly coming back down to Earth.
It was around this time the scientific community noticed that longer durations in space, in microgravity, caused a larger propensity for changes in the eye.
Many astronauts who experience these vision issues are encountering a hyperopic shift in their vision, meaning they gradually become farsighted. Astronauts can develop folds in the retina, experience swelling of the optic disk and also have distention of the optic nerve sheath behind the eye. Some astronauts who have returned from a mission are still experiencing vision issues five years later. Samuels and his colleagues believe there may be some permanent remodeling changes in the eye after extended periods of time in space.
“Given that one of NASA’s primary goals is to send someone to Mars, this will be the longest amount of time humans have spent in space thus far,” Samuels said. “If we are able to identify risk factors that might predispose someone to these types of issues in space, the computational models could become a screening tool for future astronauts.”
Samuels says he also wants to find the direct cause behind these eye pathologies in an effort to develop tools to halt this process for astronauts in space.
“If an astronaut is six months from coming home and is already experiencing vision-related issues, we want to temporize any further damage that may occur,” he said.
Samuels’ role in this project is to interpret clinical and research data that informs the computational modeling and relay back to the other investigators whether the output data obtained from the models is realistic. As a clinician-scientist, he can take information that is gathered from research studies, clinical studies and computational modeling in the lab, and compare it to real-world scenarios in a clinic.
C. Ross Ethier, Ph.D., professor and interim chair of the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology, is the project lead.
“Dr. Samuels helps ground us in clinical reality by relating effects in space to clinical conditions on Earth, detailing pathophysiologic processes at the cellular level to clinical outcomes,” Ethier said. “He is an incredible resource for our team and the broader space physiology community.”
Source: University of Alabama at Birmingham. (2017, February 27). Preserving vision for astronauts. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 7, 2017 from Science Daily.
1 March 2017 – Vision for a Nation (VFAN) has now helped over one million people to access eye care services across Rwanda. The award-winning UK charity has supported Rwanda’s Ministry of Health to successfully build an affordable nationwide eye care service that is locally available to all the nation’s 10.5 million people and is fully integrated into the public health system.
The service is provided at all of Rwanda’s 502 local health centres by certified nurses trained by VFAN to provide eye care since 2013. A nationwide outreach programme launched in 2015 is extending the service to 100% of Rwanda’s 15,000 villages to maximise awareness and address the huge backlog of need. Over 1.2m eye screenings, 560,000 medication prescriptions, 144,000 referrals for specialist treatment and 109,000 pairs of glasses have been provided to date.
Theophile – a textile worker reliant on her sight – is one of the 1+ million people helped by VFAN. She says: “Now that I have these glasses, I am not worried for my job anymore. The glasses help me in my job, and that way I am able to continue to provide for my family.”
Tom Rosewall, CEO of VFAN, comments: “Rwanda is the first emerging country in the world to provide all of its people with local access to affordable eye care. In only four years the service that we have helped build throughout the nation has served more than one million people – 10% of the population. With complete integration within Rwanda’s public health system, it will continue to help people long into the future. We are now working to take our ground-breaking approach to other countries around the world”.
The changing weather brings about many things: holiday excitement, a different wardrobe and — perhaps most annoyingly — cold and flu season. Those around you have likely been sneezing more frequently, which may have prompted you to ponder, perhaps while applying mascara or driving in bumper-to-bumper traffic, if it is possible to sneeze with your eyes open.
David Huston, MD, associate dean of the Texas A&M College of Medicine Houston campus and an allergist at Houston Methodist Hospital, said it is “absolutely possible” to sneeze without closing the eyes, but most people tend to automatically close their eyes when sneezing. It is an autonomic reflex, which is an unconscious motor action in response to a stimulus: in this case, sneezing.
“The fact that it is possible to sneeze with the eyes open suggests that it is not hard-wired or mandatory,” Huston said. There is not definitive data as to why sneezing elicits a blinking response, but Huston and others speculate that it is reflective of a protective mechanism.
“The body works to rid its airways by sneezing when it detects irritating particles in the nose,” Huston said. “By automatically shutting the eyelids when a sneeze occurs, more irritants can potentially be prevented from entering and aggravating the eyes.”
Increased pressure from straining builds up in the blood vessels, not the eyes or muscles surrounding the eyes. This vascular pressure can result in ruptured capillaries, which are the body’s smallest blood vessels, that often manifest in the eyeballs or the face.
“For example, during childbirth, excessive straining can cause some veins to hemorrhage, leaving a mother’s eyes or face to appear red or markedly bruised,” Huston said, “but it is irresponsible to claim that such pressure could dislodge the eye from its socket.”
With cold and flu season in full force, there are a number of methods to protect others from the germs spewed when sneezing. “Although you can focus to keep your eyes open when sneezing, your body’s blinking response is likely there to protect itself from germs,” Huston said.
Texas A&M University. (2016, December 9). Can you sneeze with your eyes open? ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 19, 2016 from Science Daily.
Image source: facebook.com/vangoghmuseum
Van Gogh Museum marked the 2016 World Sight Day celebration with free multi-sensory tours to focus global attention on blindness & vision impairment. The programme, called “Feeling Van Gogh“, includes an interactive tour and an opportunity to touch high-quality reproductions of Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings, so that visitors can explore the beloved Dutch painter’s artworks in depth.
On the day of the campaign, a free interactive tour, as well as, a workshop were prepared for visually impaired visitors, along with their sighted friends, family, and carers.
Van Gogh Museum is located in Amsterdam.